Hard Boiled: John Woo’s Cool, Stylized Crimer

Set on the streets of Hong Kong, where the bullets fly and the energy level is relentless, John Woo’s Hard Boiled is a stylish tale of cops who are trying to stop a giant arms-smuggling ring, from within and without.

A lot of gunfire is exchanged in this film before the great final confrontation, set in a hospital full of babies.

Though not as compelling as John Woo’s The Killer, one of his masterpieces, it’s still an imprssive and enjoyable picture. The director’s outstanding skills at an intricate mise-en-scene and staging action sequences with the precision of a ballet choreography are unmatched by anyone working in world cinema today. As such, they easily surpass with their smoothness, grace, and seduction the bravura scenes staged by our own James Cameron in “Terminator” movies.

John Woo’s cool heroes, viewed as heirs of the swashbuckling epics, highlight the triumph of personal style over movies of social contents.

It’s a matter of time before Woo would be invited to Hollywood to direct actioners and thriller, and hopefully he will maintain his personal signature and not be co-opted into the American system like so many foreign director before him.